The Grail Diary

In the film Indiana Jones and the last crusade, Indiana’s father, Henry Jones, played by Sean Connery, has a Grail diary. This notebook is the complete collection of his notes and sketches made in search of the Holy Grail. The Grail is the cup that Jesus drank from at the last support and is fabled to have magical healing powers for anyone who drinks from it. 

According to the film, Dr Jones begins the notebook with his thoughts about the Holy Grail at the start of his search for it and gradually added to it whenever he found a new clue or piece of information that might help him find the cup. The notebook was carried with him at all times and acted as a personal reference guide for all things related to the legend of the cup and its hiding place.

Wade Watts borrows this idea in the book Ready Player One to keep a physical copy of all his research related to the challenge to find Halliday’s Easter Egg. Wade uses the Grail Diary throughout the challenges as an aid to his memory.

While studying for my Information Systems and Management degree, I created my version of a Grail Diary titled The CIO Handbook. I used a Google Drive document to store all my notes for each module and added anything else I picked up in my job or more extensive reading that might help me in the future. I still have this document and have created a couple of other Grail Diaries related to significant, long-term goals that I have set myself.

Many note-taking apps provide a better platform for a digital Grail Diary than a Google Doc. OneNote, Notion, and Evernote are great tools that make it easy to take and store notes that you can organise and quickly access when you need to remind yourself of something you have previously read or an idea you have had. The ultimate software for a Grail Diary is Roam Research; it is not the easiest tool to master, but it works like your own personal Wikipedia.

In knowledge representation and reasoning, a knowledge graph is a knowledge base that uses a graph-structured data model or topology to integrate data. Knowledge graphs are often used to store interlinked descriptions of entities – objects, events, situations or abstract concepts – with free-form semantics.

Wikipedia

If you have a big challenge or goal, start your own Grail Diary. Add all your notes and ideas to the diary and use them as a reference whenever needed. You could start with a dead tree notebook or a simple Google or Word doc, but to make the most of the digital format, sign up to roam and begin to build a personal knowledge graph. 

Get in touch with me on Twitter if you have your own Grail Diary or start one and want to talk about your ideas on using one.

Ready player two (spoiler alert)

Warning! This post will spoil both books, so read them first.

I was a big fan of Ernest Cline’s first two books, Ready player one and Armada. I enjoyed the Ready player one film too although I am happy I read the book first. When I saw that the sequel was being released in November, I was excited to see where Cline would take the Oasis. Will Wheaton reads all three books on audible, and I enjoy what he adds to the text so I would recommend getting them on Audible.

Ready player two is a story about a general AI created from a brain scan of the creator of the Oasis, a virtual reality world that most of civilisation is addicted. The book introduces a possible post-human future where people can upload their consciousness to the simulated world and live on as a digital version of themselves after they die. Another idea introduced is that of people recording their experiences through brain scans. Others then can play them back, experiencing them from inside the other person’s body, with the feelings and emotions, providing empathy, something that might solve many of the current political and social arguments.

People not being ready for accepting digital versions of others is mentioned, especially as the first version of this goes mad and holds the whole virtual world hostage. Cline, however, does not talk much about the ethical implications. Are humans meant to live forever? What happens to a persons decision making when you can’t die? A statement is made towards the end of the book about a person’s mind and body are two separate things, but is this true, and are there implications of separating them?  

Altered carbon has a similar premise, but as it is based in the physical world and explores the magnified inequalities that result from the costs of moving from body to body and the ethical and religious issues of living forever. The marginal cost of digitising the mind and living forever in a computer is much cheaper and so more accessible. This would avoid some of these issues, but income inequalities will be exacerbated, and a two-class system of AI avatars and blood sacks is sure to result. I hope this is the plotline for Ready player three.

This is a great book, especially if you were born in the 80s and get all the cultural references, I highly recommend you read both Ready player one and two. If you have read or watched Altered carbon before getting to the second book, it might make you think a little more about the ending.

Let me know on Twitter if you have read the second book and what you thought of it.